News, December 9th

American Indian College Fund and Pendleton Woolen Mills name student Deshawna Anderson as 2020 Tribal College Blanket Contest Winner

DENVER — The American Indian College Fund and Pendleton Woolen Mills, the international lifestyle brand headquartered in Portland, Oregon, have selected Deshawna Anderson’s “The Courage to Bloom” as its 2020 Tribal College Blanket Contest winner. Anderson is an enrolled member of the Crow nation, an American Indian College Fund scholar, and a student attending Little Big Horn College, a tribal college in Crow Agency, Montana. She is studying business administration.

Pendleton creates wool blankets in partnership with the American Indian College Fund (the College Fund) for its American Indian College Fund collection. In addition, Pendleton has provided nearly $1.65 million in higher education support for American Indian and Alaska Native students. The College Fund and Pendleton launched the Tribal College Blanket Design Contest to further elevate the voices, work, and representation of tribal college and university (TCU) students while providing additional scholarship opportunities. Anderson’s design is the first winner of the annual competition.

“The Courage to Bloom” design is laden with traditional meaning. Anderson said the arrow shapes symbolize finding a good path in life, while acknowledging that every path holds pitfalls and opportunities. To honor the loss of missing and murdered indigenous Native people, she included an hourglass shape at the base of the largest blossom to symbolize life’s spiritual journey through the most difficult circumstances.

“It’s sad that it has to be something like this, but I hope that whoever is able to put on the design or wear it is able to get comfort from it…I hope it makes them feel good because I put good thoughts into it,” Anderson said.

A visual learner, Anderson became interested in art as an education tool to communicate her perspectives and experiences to others. She said, “My art is influenced by the Apache and Crow cultural landscapes, from the Crazy Mountain Range in the Northern Rockies of Montana to the Salt River Canyon,” (which has been described as the most scenic vista in Arizona). She also draws inspiration from historic and contemporary Apache beadwork, quillwork, and burden baskets (conically shaped and fringed baskets that traditionally were used by women to carry everyday items like food and firewood).

Anderson’s career goal is to work in the marketing field and to design a clothing line of t-shirts, sweats, and other clothing, and her experience with the blanket design will help her as she embarks upon her career. “I would like to thank everyone for giving me this opportunity and for your hard work. A shout-out to Pendleton and the American Indian College Fund and everyone who has helped me here at Little Big Horn College,” she said.

Dr. David Yarlott, President of Little Big Horn College, said, “What a tremendous boost in morale and confidence for a tribal college student to be recognized and rewarded for talent in Native thought and design! The thought that went into the design that symbolizes a contemporary issue for our Native community tugs at our hearts and raises awareness. We at Little Big Horn College are certainly proud of our student, Deshawna Anderson, for this honored recognition from the American Indian College Fund and Pendleton Woolen Mills. Thank you to the College Fund and Pendleton for the opportunity for our TCU students.”

Cheryl Crazy Bull, President and CEO of the American Indian College Fund, said, “On behalf of the College Fund, I want to thank Pendleton for recognizing the importance of visibility and representation of Indigenous people through their commitment to supporting the College Fund’s mission. When we are able to help promote the talents of students like Deshawna, whose heartfelt passion shows in her blanket design, we are accomplishing a positive outcome for all of Indian education.”

Courage to Bloom was chosen from 48 entries in the inaugural 2020 Tribal College Blanket Design Contest and will be available for purchase in spring 2021. You can pre-order a blanket at http://www.pendleton-usa.com/blankets/featured-blankets/american-indian-college-fund/.

The Tribal College Blanket Design Contest is open to all Native American TCU students. The contest provides a new, high-profile platform to recognize and develop the work of promising artists and raise the voices and representation of Native students and TCUs through internationally distributed products. Located in remote, rural areas and on Indian reservations, TCUs provide a critical link to higher education, career advancement, and indigenous knowledge for some of the nation’s poorest and least-connected Native communities. Every year the College Fund provides millions of dollars to thousands of TCU students; the blanket design contest will add to that support while elevating Native art, culture, and stories.

Applications are now being accepted for the 2021 Tribal College Blanket Design Contest. Submission guidelines and applications are available on the College Fund’s web site at collegefund.org/pendletoncontest. Any Native TCU student can submit up to two designs. Formal artistic study and textile design experience are not required.

Design winners are selected each year by a committee comprised of Native American artists along with College Fund and Pendleton staff. Prizes include:

Grand Prize winners: $2,000 cash, a $5,000 scholarship, and six of the winning blankets.

Second Place winners: $500 cash and a $2,500 scholarship.

Third Place winners: $250 cash and a $1,500 scholarship.

Brazil registers highest COVID-19 daily death toll in almost a month

Brazil reported 51,088 additional confirmed coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours and 842 fatalities from COVID-19, its Health Ministry said on Tuesday (December 8), marking the highest death toll since Nov. 14.

The South American country has now registered 6,674,999 cases since the pandemic began, while its official death toll has risen to 178,159, according to ministry data. Brazil has the world’s third highest case count and second highest death toll.

* Brazil has signed a letter of intent with Pfizer Inc guaranteeing the delivery of more than 70 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from January next year, Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello said on Tuesday.

Shortly after, President Jair Bolsonaro tweeted that Brazil will make any vaccine available free of charge to anyone who wants it, once its effectiveness and approval has been signed off by the health regulator Anvisa.

Florida state agents raid home of COVID-19 whistleblower

On Dec. 7, heavily armed agents from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement raided the home and confiscated computer equipment of Florida whistleblower and data scientist Rebekah Jones, carrying out a search warrant. Currently Gov. Ron DeSantis is scrambling to defend this raid, claiming his office did not know of the warrant, while Republican appointee to the 12th Circuit Judicial Nomination Commission, Ron Filipkowski, has resigned in disgust over the incident.

Jones was fired earlier this year from her position as a data scientist with the Florida Department of Health where she was among the early architects of the state’s COVID-19 data portal. Jones told NPR in June that she was fired because she refused to change COVID-19 numbers when Department of Health officials asked her to before the state began reopening, and has been critical of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ approach to tackling rising cases in Florida. She has since launched a whistleblower suit against the state.

Since her firing, Jones set up an independent coronavirus database after raising enough funds through crowdsourcing and has been tracking infectious cases. She also released emails from her supervisors asking her to remove access to data on the dashboard and take it offline completely.

However, on Nov. 10, the FDLE began investigating Jones after receiving a complaint from the Department of Health alleging she made unauthorized access to an alert system designated for emergencies only and sent a message to DOH employees. Jones denies the allegations of involvement with this breach. She told CNN about the raid: “This is what happens when you challenge powerful and corrupt people. … If he thinks this is going to scare me into silence, he’s wrong.”

Saul Kanowitz, a public health data analyst, told Liberation News that, “the militarized way the raid on Jones’ home and the confiscation of her hardware and related property is intended to stymie other activists and organizations that are working to fight the pandemic based on what is in the best interest of the people.”

This raid comes at a time when the most recent CDC data indicates that Florida surpassed 19,000 deaths due to the coronavirus, and last week, Florida became the third state in the United States to exceed 1 million cases.

This unilateral targeting of whistleblowers amidst a pandemic compounds the public’s distrust in the government and public health official’s ability to appropriately respond to a pandemic that has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans. Kanowitz describes the raid and criminalizing of a public health scientists as an impetus for skeptics and right wingers to further defy over 150 years of public health practices leading to a continued surge of COVID-19 cases.

“The interests of the capitalist class have prevented the implementation of a comprehensive program to guarantee the health and well-being of the working class and the people of this country. Investigative efforts like the one by Jones only shine a spotlight on the failures of this profits-first, people-last system. The ruling class politicians want to control the message about the pandemic and shape and manage public opinion. The ruling class does not want an independent mobilization against the pandemic that is not fettered by the interests of big business,” said Kanowitz.

International community reaches important milestone in fight against tax evasion

09/12/2020 – New international standards on the automatic exchange of information for tax purposes have so far been satisfactorily implemented by countries worldwide, marking an important milestone in the global fight against tax evasion, according to a new report published today by the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes (the Global Forum).

The first Peer Review of the Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information shows that 88% of jurisdictions engaged in automatic exchange since 2017-18 were deemed to have satisfactory legal frameworks in place. The report notes that a second stage of the monitoring process, now underway, will assess the effectiveness of automatic exchange in more than 100 jurisdictions.

The peer review report was presented during the first day of the annual plenary meeting of the Global Forum, which is bringing together ministers, high-level authorities and delegates from more than 100 member jurisdictions. The three-day meeting is focusing on how the tax transparency agenda can promote the fairness of tax systems while strengthening revenue mobilisation. The event will highlight recent achievements and challenges in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Global Forum continues to be a game-changer,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. “In spite of the COVID-19 crisis, it has successfully delivered on the global peer review process, offering further proof that automatic exchange is becoming the global standard. Ensuring access to financial account information for tax administrations helps ensure everyone pays their fair share of tax, boosting revenue mobilisation for countries worldwide, and particularly for developing countries.”

In 2019, countries automatically exchanged information on 84 million financial accounts worldwide, covering total assets of USD 10 trillion. EUR 107 billion in additional tax revenues have been identified through voluntary disclosure programmes, offshore tax investigations and related measures since 2009, an increase over the EUR 102 billion figure reported in 2019.

The Global Forum Secretariat provided technical assistance in 2020 to 59 developing country members, including training to thousands of officials, as part of efforts to strengthen tax collection capacity worldwide. “The battle for transparency is being fought on many fronts,” said Zayda Manatta, Head of the Global Forum Secretariat. “We are moving fast towards full implementation of the existing standards, and taking every effort to ensure all our members benefit from them.”

Italy reports 14,837 new COVID-19 cases, total tops 1.75 mln

ROME, Dec. 9 (Xinhua) — Italy reported on Tuesday 14,837 new COVID-19 cases, bringing its tally to 1,757,394, according to the country’s health authorities.

The health ministry also confirmed 634 new fatalities from the virus over the past day. Italy’s total COVID-19 death toll now stands at 61,240.

Italy ranks sixth worldwide in terms of COVID-19 infections and relevant death toll, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Resolutions to Block UAE Arms Sales Fail to Pass in Senate

On Wednesday, the Senate voted against resolutions that aimed to block a massive arms sale to the UAE that the Trump administration is moving forward. The deal is worth an estimated $23 billion and includes F-35 fighter jets, Reaper jones, and munitions.

Separate resolutions that targeted different aspects of the sales failed to pass. One resolution that addressed the drone sale failed 46 to 50. Another resolution that addressed the F-35 sale failed 47 to 49.

Ahead of the vote, President Trump issued a formal warning that he would veto the resolutions. The White House released a statement that said the sales support US foreign policy goals by “enabling the UAE to deter increasing Iranian aggressive behavior and threats.” In 2019, Trump vetoed bills that aimed to block US arms sales to Saudi Arabia for its

The sales are seen as a reward for Abu Dhabi’s decision to normalize relations with Israel. After initially opposing the F-35 sale, Israel gave the US the green light once Washington pledged to supply Israel with new advanced weapons of its own.

The influential pro-Israel lobby AIPAC also released a statement ahead of the vote. “We do not oppose the proposed arms sale to the UAE, given the peace agreement reached between Israel and the UAE as well as the agreement reached between the US and Israel to ensure Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME) will not be adversely impacted by the sale,” AIPAC spokesman Marshall Wittmann said in a statement.

Selling advanced weaponry to the UAE has raised concerns due to Abu Dhabi’s support for the US-backed Saudi-led coalition that regularly targets civilians. Although the UAE and Saudi Arabia have been at odds in Yemen in recent years over Abu Dhabi’s support for a southern separatist group, the UAE has not flinched over the Saudi’s siege tactics against the civilian population of Yemen that has caused widespread disease, malnutrition, and mass starvation.

Besides the risk to civilians, weapons sold to the UAE could end up in the hands of al-Qaeda linked militants in Yemen. In 2019, a CNN report showed that advanced military equipment sold to the UAE was transferred to al-Qaeda linked fighters in Yemen. An AP News investigation from 2018 found the UAE was directly paying militants in Yemen who are on the US terror list and affiliated with al-Qaeda.

Russian police hunt thieves who plundered top secret ‘doomsday’ plane

MOSCOW – Police in Russia said on Wednesday they were searching for thieves who plundered technical equipment from a top-secret military aircraft known as the “doomsday” plane that is designed for use during a nuclear war.

The robbery, which raises questions about the security of sensitive military-related installations, took place as maintenance work was being carried out on the Ilyushin Il-80 plane.

The aircraft was modified from a Soviet jet airliner during the late Cold War to serve as an aerial command post for top officials to control their troops during a crisis.

The theft came to light earlier this week in reports by Russian media, including the REN TV channel, which said signs of a break-in via the cargo hatch had been spotted last Friday and that 39 electronic units had been removed.

Police in the southern region of Rostov said in a statement that a search for the culprits was underway. They have not reported any arrests so far.

Police said the aircraft had been at an aerodrome in the city of Taganrog, but gave no details about the nature of the stolen equipment except for its estimated worth — more than 1 million roubles ($13,600)

Russian military experts speculated that the items had been stolen because some of the units had been assembled using precious metals such as gold and platinum.

The incident comes after President Vladimir Putin put vast funds into overhauling the Russian military amid tensions with the West that are at their highest since the end of the Cold War.

The Kremlin said measures would be taken to stop such a theft from occurring again.

UK-EU to resume Brexit trade talks but say large gaps remain

BRUSSELS (AP) — In the end, not even dinner of scallops and steamed turbot could bring the leaders of the European Union and Britain any closer together than months of talks by negotiators seeking to cobble together a trade deal in the wake of their Brexit divorce.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave the two sides four more days, until Sunday, to end four years of diplomatic heartburn and salvage the unlikeliest of trade deals after the U.K. voted to leave the EU in 2016. Otherwise, they face a tumultuous no-deal split at the end of the month, threatening hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in losses.

Even after two lengthy phone calls and a three-hour dinner in less than a week, there was still far too much which was unpalatable.

“We understand each other’s positions. They remain far apart,” von der Leyen said.

Johnson flew to Brussels in hopes of injecting new momentum into talks that are stuck on issues including fishing rights and competition rules.

But there was no breakthrough at the three-hour meeting, which Downing St. described as “frank.” Von der Leyen said it was “lively and interesting.” But a whiff of progress anywhere? None.

Britain left the EU on Jan. 31 but remains in its economic structures until the end of the year. That means a serious economic rupture on Jan. 1 that could be chaotic if there is no trade agreement.

The two leaders had hoped to inject political momentum into trade talks that have become hopelessly deadlocked on fishing and other key aspects of the future relationship. But Britain and the EU gave ominously opposing views of the main sticking points — and each insisted the other must move to reach agreement.

Johnson told lawmakers in the House of Commons that the bloc’s demands that the U.K. continue to adhere to its standards or face retaliation were not “terms that any prime minister of this country should accept.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed that the EU would not compromise on its core principles. Merkel told the German parliament that the bloc would “take a path without an … agreement if there are conditions from the British side that we can’t accept.”

The U.K. left the EU after 47 years of membership, but remains within the bloc’s tariff-free single market and customs union until the end of the year. Reaching a trade deal by then would ensure there are no tariffs or quotas on trade in goods on Jan. 1, although there would still be new costs and red tape for businesses.

When Johnson was crossing over the English Channel to Brussels, down below the impact of Brexit was already visible with extra long tailbacks in France’s Calais where truckers were trying to meet the demands of U.K. companies which want to lay in extra stock ahead of potential disruption on Jan. 1.

“For about the last three weeks we’ve seen an increase in the flow of traffic toward Great Britain due to stockpiling. The platforms, whether it’s the port and the (Euro)tunnel, don’t have capacity to absorb this increase in traffic,” said Sebastien Rivera, Secretary General of France’s National Federation of Road Transport.

“Right now, it takes (truckers) easily three or four more hours to cross the English Channel. So it is easily 240 or 300 euros of financial costs to the company, that’s for nothing more than the additional time it takes,” Rivera told the Associated Press.

Failure to secure a trade deal would cause much greater disruption, bringing tariffs and other barriers that would hurt both sides, although most economists think the British economy would take a greater hit because the U.K. does almost half of its trade with the bloc.

Months of trade talks have failed to bridge the gaps on three issues — fishing rights, fair-competition rules and the governance of future disputes.

While both sides want a deal, they have fundamentally different views of what it entails. The EU fears Britain will slash social and environmental standards and pump state money into U.K. industries, becoming a low-regulation economic rival on the bloc’s doorstep — hence the demand for strict “level playing field” guarantees in exchange for access to its markets.

Merkel said “the integrity of the single market must be preserved.”

“We must have a level playing field not just for today, but we must have one for tomorrow or the day after, and to do this we must have agreements on how one can react if the other changes their legal situation,” Merkel said.

The U.K. government sees Brexit as about sovereignty and “taking back control” of the country’s laws, borders and waters. It claims the EU is trying to bind Britain to the bloc’s rules indefinitely.

Unsurprising that India’s farmers are worried about agricultural reforms: US lawmaker

In the midst of a global pandemic, it is unsurprising that India’s farmers are worried about the impact of the recent agricultural reforms, a top American lawmaker has said, coming out in support of the agitating farmers who have been protesting against the new farm laws.

Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana and several other states have been protesting on various borders of Delhi since November 26, seeking repeal of three farm laws enacted in September.

Dubbing these laws as “anti-farmer”, these farmers claim that the newly enacted legislations would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the “mercy” of big corporations.

However, the government has maintained that the new laws will bring farmers better opportunities and usher in new technologies in agriculture.

“In the midst of a global pandemic, it’s unsurprising that India’s farmers are worried about the impact of recent agricultural reforms. As we know from our own experience in the US, citizens have every right to protest peaceably, be accommodated and their concerns listened to,” Congressman Brad Sherman, Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, said on Tuesday.

“As chair of the Caucus on India & Indian Americans, I’ve proudly championed the close partnership between the world’s largest and oldest democracies. It’s a partnership built on both interests and values, including a shared dedication to human rights and freedom of speech,” he said in a series of tweets.

India has called the remarks by foreign leaders and politicians on protests by farmers as “ill-informed” and “unwarranted”, asserting that the matter pertains to the internal affairs of a democratic country.

“The farmers yearning to be heard are another powerful example of how peaceful protest is just one of the many cherished democratic traditions binding our countries together,” Sharman said.

Congressman-elect David G Valadao also supported Indian farmers.

“As farmers peacefully make their voices heard, the Government of India has a responsibility to allow their citizens to exercise this right to assemble,” Valadao said.

Farmer leaders have been firm on their demand for repeal of three new farm laws. They have claimed that the laws will benefit corporates and end the mandi system and the minimum support price (MSP) regime.

The government has maintained that it is committed to the welfare of farmers and have presented these laws as major reforms for their benefits.

A late-night meeting called by Home Minister Amit Shah ended in failure on Tuesday as farmer leaders rejected the government’s offer to amend new farm laws, saying they would settle for nothing less than the scrapping of the legislations, while many of them threatened to boycott Wednesday’s scheduled talks with ministers.

US Covid deaths exceed 3,000 in 24 hours

WASHINGTON: The United States on Wednesday registered more than 3,000 deaths from Covid-19 in 24 hours, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally – the highest daily toll since April.

American authorities warned a spike in deaths was coming after millions traveled around the country for the Thanksgiving holiday last month, ignoring pleas to stay home to slow the spread of the virus.

As of 8:30 pm (0030 GMT Thursday), the country had recorded a total of 289,188 Covid deaths, up by 3,071 in 24 hours. It also registered nearly 220,481 new cases.

California, where some 33 million people were back under lockdown this week, saw more than 30,000 cases on Wednesday – the highest 24-hour tally in a US state, according to the Covid Tracking Project.

The

number of virus patients hospitalized in the US continues to break records, hitting 106,000 on Wednesday.

Over the past two weeks the US has exceeded 2,000 Covid-related deaths per day several times, rivalling tolls the worst-hit nation in the world saw in the early days of the pandemic.

Faced with massive and uncontrolled spread of the virus, American authorities have put their hopes in halting its spread on a vaccine.

US experts meet Thursday to examine Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine, which could be given emergency authorization in the coming days.

Some 15 million people have contracted Covid-19 in the US since the start of the pandemic.–AFP

World Bank Group Announces Ambitious 35% Finance Target to Support Countries’ Climate Action

WASHINGTON, Dec 9, 2020 —The World Bank Group today announced an ambitious target for 35% of its financing to have climate co-benefits, on average, over the next five years. It replaces an earlier target of reaching 28% by 2020, which was in place over the last 5 years. The World Bank – IBRD and IDA – will also seek to ensure that 50% of this financing supports adaptation and resilience. These are two of several announcements about the Bank Group’s commitment to helping developing countries address climate change and adapt to its mounting impacts.

World Bank Group President David Malpass will participate in the virtual Climate Ambition Summit on Saturday, December 12, co-hosted by the United Nations, the United Kingdom and France, in partnership with Chile and Italy, to discuss the Bank Group’s activities and commitments.

“Climate change presents critical challenges to our development efforts,” said David Malpass, President of the World Bank Group. “The poorer countries suffer most from climate events – including flooding, droughts and food insecurity. In addition to increasing our climate financing, we’re working to achieve country outcomes that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and a successful transition to lower-carbon development.”

The Bank Group is already the biggest multilateral funder of climate investments in developing countries. The co-benefits target of 28% by 2020 was established as part of the Bank Group’s First Climate Change Action Plan, covering 2016-2020. The new 35% average co-benefits target will be embedded in the Second Climate Change Action Plan, which will cover 2021-2025.

Between 2016 and 2020, Bank Group institutions – the World Bank, IFC, and MIGA – provided over $83 billion in climate finance to developing countries. This translated into adding 34 GW of renewable energy and improving access to hydromet data and early warning systems for millions of people in over 50 countries, among other good development outcomes. Last year also saw the largest amount of climate investments in the Bank Group’s history.

The Bank Group is working to help countries monitor and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Through its programs, it is committed to helping countries meet their climate and development goals, including Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement, reduced reliance on coal, and a strong, green, climate-resilient recovery.

World Press Freedom Conference spotlights dangerous job of separating ‘truth from falsehood’

Prominent journalists and champions of press freedom from across the world are examining ways to overcome increasing challenges facing the media during a two-day online conference organized jointly by the UN’s cultural and educational agency, UNESCO, and the Netherlands.

The World Press Freedom Conference 2020, which began on Wednesday, features interactive panels and discussions covering issues such as investigating the killings of journalists, online violence against women journalists, and the media’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Not only are journalists conveying vital information during the pandemic, they also help us distinguish all manner of truth from falsehood, which is fundamental to our social contract”, said Audrey Azoulay, the UNESCO Director-General.

“Yet, journalists continue to be targeted, harassed and attacked. In recent years, threats against them have grown because they disrupt, because they tell the truth. Or, to put it simply, because they do their job.”

Between 2010 and 2019, nearly 900 journalists were killed in the line of duty, according to UNESCO data; crimes that mainly go unpunished. Women journalists have faced harassment, including physical or sexual threats, whether online or in real life, while the pandemic has added to the already precarious financial situation of the media industry.

There can be no “press” without “freedom”, the Dutch Foreign Minister, Stef Blok, stressed, acknowledging how he counts on the media to keep him informed about what is happening at home and around the world.

Mr. Blok said he had spoken earlier on Thursday with young journalists from Ethiopia and Libya “and I really could tell them from the bottom of my heart: We need you. We need you to know what is happening in your country, and to do what we have to do as ministers.”

During the first panel, Elisabeth Bumiller, Washington Bureau Chief of the New York Times, spoke of the “rough four years” American media had to weather, covering the Trump administration.

“He has called us ‘the enemy of the people’, he’s used the term ‘fake news’, which has been repeated by 50 Presidents, Prime Ministers and other government officials around the world”, she said.

Although these attacks have had what Ms. Bumiller described as “a corrosive effect” on the media in the United States, she reported that The Times has nonetheless seen record levels of readership and digital subscriptions.

However, Sudanese-born journalist Nima El Badir, a Senior International Correspondent with CNN in London, was wary that the “contagion” of populism is still spreading across the globe.

“I worry that we are taking a breath and kind of exhaling a little too early”, she said. “The sense that we get is that there is a contagion; that the lessons of the populist leadership, of the populist wave – whether in the US, the UK, or Europe – has been learned very well by leaders around the world.”

Ms. El Badir pointed to the situation in Ethiopia, where a communications blackout has been imposed in the north since the start of the Tigray crisis a month ago.

“How can President Trump, how can Prime Minister Johnson, how can any of the many leaders within the European Union, speak out about lack of access when they themselves would love to nothing more than exactly the same? If they could shut us down, they would”, he claimed.

For Maria Ressa, Editor-in-Chief of the Philippines online news website Rappler, the rise of populism, and attacks against journalists, have been enabled by technology.

Ms. Ressa, who has been arrested nine times, believes people must give consideration to their news sources. Social media penetration in the Philippines is high, she said, describing it as “Facebook country.”

“Well, our dystopian present has now hit many democracies around the world, and we’ve got to do something about this”, she warned.

“And that is to make sure that news reaches you; that the platforms, the social media platforms, because of their business model, that they do not insidiously manipulate us to tear democracy down.”

WTO receives petition asking for universally accessible and affordable COVID-19 vaccines

A petition calling for universal access to affordable COVID-19 vaccines was delivered virtually by Avaaz, a global online citizen movement, to the WTO on 9 December 2020. Over 900,000 individuals from around the world have signed the petition, which asks all governments, WTO members and pharmaceutical companies to “ensure access to lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and equipment for everyone in the world”.The

petition was submitted ahead of a meeting on 10 December of the Council for Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), where WTO members intend to continue discussions on a proposal to waive certain obligations in the TRIPS Agreement in relation to the prevention, containment or treatment of COVID-19. Considerable differences remain between members over this proposal.

Bernard Kuiten, the WTO’s Head of External Relations, received the petition on behalf of the organization. He expressed his appreciation for the time that Avaaz has dedicated to the issue and thanked the organization for its interest in the WTO and for giving citizens worldwide a global platform to express their concerns. He also said that in order to leave this devastating pandemic behind us, international cooperation and coordination are crucial.

Aside from the debate among WTO members on the specific proposal for a waiver to the TRIPS Agreement, the WTO Secretariat has been active in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. This has included gathering information on the range of trade policy responses put in place by governments around the globe and promoting transparency and dialogue on the range of measures taken.

In the area of intellectual property and TRIPS, the WTO has been guided by the letter and spirit of the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health, which confirmed that the TRIPS Agreement must be framed in the context of making a positive contribution to addressing public health problems. Technical assistance for WTO members has focused on strengthening domestic capacity to assess and implement all policy options open to them.

The WTO has also joined forces with the World Health Organization and the World Intellectual Property Organization to produce an updated edition of “Promoting Access to Medical Technologies and Innovation”. This publication promotes an integrated health, trade and IP approach to the COVID-19 pandemic and looks at collaboration between the three organizations in providing technical assistance and policy support to its member governments.

Published by jim

Curator of things...

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